|Monday, 7 July 2003|
Floods leave nearly one million homeless in India's northeast
GUWAHATI, India, Sunday (AFP)-At least 65,000 more people were left homeless after fresh flooding overnight in India's northeast, taking the total number of those displaced by the rains to more than 926,000, officials said Sunday.
In Assam, the mighty Brahmaputra River burst its banks at several places Saturday washing away homes and breaching roads and mud embankments.
"A total of 19 of the state's 24 districts were hit by the floods affecting some 916,453 people," an Assam government statement said Sunday.
At least 10,000 people have been displaced in the neighbouring state of Tripura. The second wave of floods that began on June 27 in Assam has claimed the lives of 13 people in the region so far.
About 400,000 people were displaced during the first wave of floods in early June, but the waters later receded.
"The situation has turned critical in many parts of the state with the river taking a deadly mood," Assam Revenue Minister Mithias Tudu told AFP. An outbreak of malaria and water borne diseases in flood-hit areas is adding to the woes of the people. At least nine more people died of malaria in various parts of eastern and western Assam during the past week, taking the toll due to malaria and Japanese encephalitis to 69 since the beginning of June.
For tens of thousands of people taking shelter on mud embankments and other raised platforms, there has been acute shortages of food and drinking water.
Meanwhile Tens of thousands of people were left stranded or have moved to safer places as flash floods worsened in Bangladesh, officials and reports said.
Officials and newspapers, including the respected The Independent daily, said thousands of people were marooned as rain-triggered floods gushed down from northern parts of the country into the Bay of Bengal.
"The trend in the rise of water levels in major rivers indicated that the situation might worsen further, devouring fresh areas," a Flood Warning Centre (FWC) official told AFP. He added that water levels at 12 out of 85 points across the country were flowing what is considered the danger mark, but the situation in the northeastern part was improving. The unofficial death toll since monsoon rains started hammering deltaic Bangladesh in May now stands at 55, with most killed in landslides in the southeastern hill tracts earlier this week. The toll includes four people who have drowned over the past few days, reports said.
Witnesses said areas around the capital Dhaka were also flooded, with water levels rising in the Shitalakhya, Balu and Buriganga rivers.
Run-off from hills in neighbouring India have been blamed by experts for the worsening floods in seven north and northwestern Bangladeshi districts of Gaibandha, Bogra, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Sirajganj and Kurigram.
Some 300,000 residents of the seven districts were marooned, the Independent said, but no official confirmation was available.
Meanwhile China has evacuated 17,000 people in eastern Anhui province ahead of plans to blow up river dikes on Sunday to release flood waters, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The water level on the swollen Huaihe River had broken historic records, Xinhua quoted the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters as saying. China's flooding season usually starts around June and ebbs by September. The Ministry of Civil Affairs said last week that 148 people had died by late June from floods.
Produced by Lake House